United and determined

United and determined

I write after coming back from Tallinn, where I chaired the meeting of the European Union’s Foreign and Defence Ministers – at the end of a difficult week of international tensions, after the latest North Korean nuclear test. We managed to respond to these tensions with unity and determination, and with some important decisions – which I explain here.

With the Foreign Minister we addressed the crisis in Venezuela, with a commitment to keep on with our contacts to help bring the crisis to an end – particularly our contacts with Latin-American partners. We also discussed the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and decided to start a review of the modalities of our engagement on the ground: we do not want to reduce our engagement, but on the contrary to make it more effective towards the only realistic goal to end the conflict, that is, a two-state solution. Another important point on our agenda, which we discussed with the Ministers of the five candidate countries to EU membership: the prevention of radicalisation and the fight against terrorism. Here is the press conference after the Foreign Ministers’ meeting, and here is my discussion with members of Defence and Foreign Affairs Committees from all around Europe to discuss the priorities of our common foreign and security policy.

Because in Tallinn, over the last two days, we also carried on our work on the European common security and defence. First, with an exercise on cyber-security, together (for the first time) with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg; and then with some important decisions on strengthening our common European commitment in two essential regions for us: the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. Moreover, and crucially, with the Defence Ministers we worked on the preparations towards a Permanent Structured Cooperation among Member States and on the European Defence Fund, which should both be launched by the end of this year. Here is the press conference in Tallinn on Defence.

European defence, North Korea, our relations with Turkey and with our Balkan partners were also at the core of my visit to Slovenia at the beginning of the week, in my meetings with President Borut Pahor, Prime Minister Miro Cerar, the Minister of Foreign Affars Karl Erjavec, of Defence Andreja Katic, of Interior Vesna Gyorkos, with the Foreign and Defence Committees of the Parliaments, and at the Bled Strategic Forum.

In Bled I met with Yukiya Amano, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s director general; Lassina Zerbo, executive secretary of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty Organisation; Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (here is what I said in Bled on Turkey); with Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States; the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar, and the Foreign Minister of Moldova Andrei Galbur. Finally, I took part in the South-East European Cooperation Pricess (SEECP). Here is my speech at the Bled Strategic Forum, focusing on North Korea and the Balkans.